Liberians Want Stakeholders To Go to Peace Talks Without Preconditions

By: I. Solo Kelgbeh

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 22, 2003

With just days to the holding of the scheduled Accra Peace Talks on Liberia, the need for all stakeholders to go there without pre-conditions has been stressed.

During yesterday's edition of the popular talk show, "Topical Issues", on Radio Veritas, the two invited guests and several callers said if the suffering of the Liberian people must come to an end, then major stakeholders which include the Liberian Government and the rebel groups, LURD and MODEL, should attend the confab without pre-conditions.

These calls follow recent reports that seem to suggest the unwillingness on the part of both the GOL and the rebel LURD to compromise.

Initially, LURD reportedly said it was not aware of the scheduled peace talks, and later said it will be at the talks with the foremost goal of doing business to bring peace to Liberia if only Pres. Taylor resigns.

On the other hand, Pres. Taylor on Saturday, during an extraordinary meeting of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) in Gbarnga, Bong County, is reported to have said he will not share power as a compromise with the rebel LURD.

The Liberian leader however promised to attend the Accra Talks but vehemently vowed not to share power with those he considered "to be killing innocent people".

Pres. Taylor also reiterated his decision to have elections held come October, in keeping with the constitution of Liberia, although there have been calls from Liberians and the international community to postpone the elections due to the prevailing security situation in the country.

Mr. Kofa Nagbe, who is the Deputy Managing Director for Administration at the National Housing Authority, said for the sake of peace, Pres. Taylor should bend over backward a little bit.

Speaking on the issue of power-sharing in government, Mr. Kofa said the NPP-led government must accommodate the rebel groups for the sake of peace, "for this government ascended to the helm of power through accommodation."

Although Mr. Kofa condemned the act of waging war on the people of Liberia, as no war is justifiable, the outspoken opposition politician said the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the fore-runner of the NPP, committed more atrocities against this land than any group.

Mr. Nagbe like other callers on yesterday's program said the defunct NPFL carried out gruesome and heinous crimes during the past civil crisis that lasted for nearly a decade.

He said about 300,000 persons were killed because of what was then considered "the popular uprising."

"Today these people who carried out these gruesome crimes are serving as honorable men and ministers, simply due to accommodation", Mr. Nagbe maintained.

The outspoken Grand Kru citizen called on the Liberian leader who he described as a determined and courageous man, to bend over backward a little, stressing, "bury your pride for the sake of peace".

Mr. Nagbe said the constitution was being violated with impunity and that compromising by sharing power for the sake of peace was necessary if the ruling paty's maxim: "Above all Else, The People", must be a reality.

He made reference to the latest maltreatment and detention of journalist Teah Doegmah on alleged orders of police officer, Col. Leo Jerbo.

Speaking on the postponement of elections, Mr. Nagbe said political parties will have to channel their grievances first to the Elections Commission(ECOM), to put a hold on the process until the security conditions in the country improves.

"We can later seek redress from the Supreme Court if the ECOM fails to hear our cry and act accordingly", Mr Nagbe added.

Mr. Kofa Nagbe then wrapped up his participation on the program by making what is being viewed as a meaningful recommendation.

He recommended that Liberians execute a stay home action as a means of pressurizing stakeholders to the peace talks to go all out for peace in Accra. Finally, he challenged the Liberian media to institute a blackout for the same purpose.

For his part, Mr. Philip N. Wesseh, Managing Editor of The INQUIRER Newspaper, also called on the Liberian Government and the rebels to put the country first in their deliberations.

He said Pres. Taylor must compromise with the rebels by sharing power. The vocal journalist challenged Pres. Taylor to practicalize the slogan of the NPP.

Mr. Wesseh who is emphatically calling on stakeholders to attend the pending peace talks without pre-conditions, is also reiterating the need for an unconditional cease-fire.

The independent INQUIRER boss said the living condition of the Liberian people is deplorable and as such, the people need to graduate from this stage.

"Visit the various IDPs centers in the country and you will know that there is an unconditional need for peace now. There is an urgent need for the stakeholders to swallow bitter pills for the sake of peace", Mr. Wesseh noted.

The Press Union of Liberia's 2002/2003 'Journalist of the Year', said elections were not feasible because the entire country is not secure. He said the Liberian leader has always said "Liberia is not Monrovia", so having elections only in Monrovia would not be the right thing to do.

A caller, Ben Thompson said, "in as much as Alhaji Kromah, George Boley and Pres. Taylor who committed attrocities in the name of liberation were accepted by the Liberian people, the Liberian Chief Executive must share power with us for the sake of peace."

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.